Monday, 28 February 2011

The "Oscars" and some G.K. Chesterton

Have you ever wished you could find a hole in the ground and disappear into it? I do, ever more frequently these days; perhaps it's the onset of complete 'fogeydom,' the end of the Church as we have known it, or only that end of winter feeling we often experience just before the beginning of Lent. But whatever the cause, a cave would do fine, despite the return to cold weather today.

At times like this I almost agree with a friend who argues that the Christian faith, at least in its unreformed exuberance of pilgrimages and outdoor processions, and its ordered succession of fasting and feasting is more suited to a mediterranean climate. Whitewashed churches and sermons of interminable length seem somehow more at home in the gloom, cold and damp of a  northern european winter. Although, before the middle of the sixteenth century we seemed to manage things quite well, and there was a (historically quite short) period when it seemed the Anglo-Catholic movement could achieve a re-enchantment of our social and religious culture - now all consigned to the might-have-beens of history, more's the pity.

But our contemporary "culture" seems to have invented a new late winter / early spring secular feast, Oscar Night. I'm told that the sort of people my internet provider wants me to read about on its front page actually go to parties which show the proceedings on large screens, a sort of Hollywood anteroom for those who will never get there in person.
 It is good to see British success again in the film industry (we're good at acting, certainly) even if the kind of success is rather predictable, confirming long-standing American misconceptions about Britain being a stiff upper lip theme park, peopled with ineffectual but well-dressed folk with good manners and impeccable breeding. Yeah, right.....
Still, it's probably better to watch the modern British genuflection to the culture of Californian hedonism than Canon Giles Fraser being interviewed by Ruth Gledhill on the subject of  why the Church should celebrate same sex relationships. Here
Neither, and they are fairly closely related, is the kind of re-enchantment which commends itself particularly.

"What was the matter with the whole heathen civilisation was that there nothing for the mass of men in the way of mysticism, except that concerned with the mystery of the nameless forces of nature, such as sex and growth and death. In the Roman Empire also, long before the end, we find nature-worship inevitably producing things that are against nature. Cases like that of Nero have passed into a proverb when Sadism sat on a throne brazen in the broad daylight. But the truth I mean is something much more subtle and universal than a conventional catalogue of atrocities. What had happened to the human imagination, as a whole, was that the whole world was coloured by dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions; by natural passions becoming unnatural passions. Thus the effect of treating sex as only one innocent natural thing was that every other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with sex. For sex cannot be admitted to a mere equality among elementary emotions or experiences like eating and sleeping. The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant. There is something dangerous and disproportionate in its place in human nature, for whatever reason; and it does really need a special purification and dedication. The modern talk about sex being free like any other sense, about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower, is either a description of the Garden of Eden or a piece of thoroughly bad psychology, of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago.
It was not so much that the pagan world was wicked as that it was good enough to realise that its paganism was becoming wicked, or rather it was on the logical high road to wickedness. I mean that there was no future for "natural magic"; to deepen it was only to darken it into black magic. There was no future for it; because in the past it had only been innocent because it was young. We might say it had only been innocent because it was shallow. Pagans were wiser that paganism; that is why the pagans became Christians. Thousands of them had philosophy and family virtues and military honour to hold them up; but by this time the purely popular thing called religion was certainly dragging them down. When this reaction against the evil is allowed for, it is true to repeat that it was an evil that was everywhere. In another and more literal sense its name was Pan.
It was no metaphor to say that these people needed a new heaven and a new earth; for they had really defiled their own earth and even their own heaven. How could their case be met by looking at the sky, when erotic legends were scrawled in stars across it; how could they learn anything from the love of birds and flowers after the sort of love stories that were told of them? It is impossible here to multiply evidences, and one small example may stand for the rest. We know what sort of sentimental associations are called up to us by the phrase "a garden"; and how we think mostly of the memory of melancholy and innocent romances, or quite as often of some gracious maiden lady or kindly old person pottering under a yew hedge, perhaps in sight of a village spire. Then, let anyone who knows a little Latin poetry recall suddenly what would have once stood in place of the sun-dial or the fountain, obscene and monstrous in the sun; and of what sort was the god of their gardens.
Nothing could purge this obsession but a religion that was literally unearthly. It was no good telling such people to have a natural religion full of stars and flowers; there was not a flower or even a star that had not been stained. They had to go into the desert where they could find no flowers or even into the cavern where they could see no stars. Into that desert and that cavern the highest human intellect entered for some four centuries; and it was the very wisest thing it could do. Nothing but the stark supernatural stood up for its salvation; if God could not save it, certainly the gods could not. The early Church called the gods of paganism devils; and the Early Church was perfectly right. Whatever natural religion may have had to do with their beginnings, nothing but fiends now inhabited those hollow shrines. Pan was nothing but panic. Venus was nothing but venereal vice. I do not mean for a moment, of course, that all the individual pagans were of this character even to the end; but it was as individuals that they differed from it. Nothing distinguishes paganism from Christianity so clearly as the fact that the individual thing called philosophy had little or nothing to do with the social thing called religion. Anyhow it was no good to preach natural religion to people to whom nature had grown as unnatural as any religion. They knew much better than we do what was the matter with them and what sort of demons at once tempted and tormented them; and they wrote across that great space of history the text; "This sort goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."  
G.K. Chesterton  from 'Saint Francis of Assisi' (chapter 2)

Friday, 25 February 2011

"No authority – civil or religious – has the power to modify the fundamental nature of marriage."

Below is a statement from Archbishop Peter Smith, lately of Cardiff, now of Southwark
There would have been a time when Anglicans and Roman Catholics would have been in complete agreement over this. Some maintain that officially we still are. However, never underestimate the ability of  powerful lobby groups within the Anglican world to subvert and then shift orthodox positions. For a related example see here
Note: again we see the essential limit to the authority of the Catholic Church - a humble recognition that there are certain "givens" of the divine and the natural law which cannot simply be changed to suit the spirit of the times. In stark contrast, underlying much of contemporary liberal revisionist theology seems to be a reckless antinomianism.

"The Government statement on 17th February makes it clear that they are now considering a fundamental change to the status of marriage. That is something which was never envisaged by the Equality Act or any other legislation passed by Parliament. Marriage does not belong to the State any more than it belongs to the Church. It is a fundamental human institution rooted in human nature itself. It is a lifelong commitment of a man and a woman to each other, publicly entered into, for their mutual well-being and for the procreation and upbringing of children. No authority – civil or religious – has the power to modify the fundamental nature of marriage. We will be opposing such a change in the strongest terms.

The Equality Act was amended to permit Civil Partnerships on religious premises, which unhelpfully blurs the distinction previously upheld by Parliament and the Courts between marriage and civil partnerships. A consenting Minister is perfectly free to hold a religious ceremony either before or after a Civil Partnership. That is a matter of religious freedom, but it requires no legislation by the State. We do not believe it is either necessary or desirable to allow the registration of civil partnerships on religious premises. These will not take place in Catholic churches."

Fr John Broadhurst: "I certainly have no intention of relinquishing my orders"

Thank to the Ordinariate Portal for this:

This letter from Fr John Broadhurst appears in today’s Church Times:

Anglican Orders and their relinquishment

Sir, — I am surprised at the legal opinion on convert clergy (News, 28 January). To my certain knowledge, at least 471 priests (including ten bishops) have left the Church of England for the Roman Catholic Church since the late 1980s. Others have left for Orthodoxy or Traditional Anglicanism. Of all these, only 18 have relinquished their orders.
What many Anglicans claim to be offensive about the Ordinariate is the suggestion that those of us who take that path are denying our previous ministry. This is not required by the Roman Catholic Church, and I for one am happy to affirm the reality of all that I have done and been as a priest and bishop in the Church of England.
At my own ordination, Archbishop Nichols talked of our previous ministry as bishops in the Church of England. If the Synod lawyers are suggesting that we should renounce our ministry, this seems at variance with the feelings of most Anglicans, and my own.
As someone who chaired the revision committee on the previous Clergy Discipline Measure, I know how unworkable such Measures prove to be in practice. That said, the suggestion that clergy who left the Church of England, who would obviously be unlicensed, could in any way be subject to the present Measure is manifestly laughable.
Relinquishment of orders not only costs a substantial amount, but means that those who do so are entered on the Lambeth List along with those deprived or deposed for serious offences. I certainly have no intention of relinquishing my orders.


Hollywood's depiction of the Church

Having been laid low over the last few days, I've been re-watching a couple of DVDs.
Are there any mainstream films that depict the Church with anything like sympathy or even a basic understanding? It doesn't seem as if there are that many, although Fr Mark may have found a recent French example here
One of my own favourites is Roland  Joffé's "The Mission," largely for the sympathetic treatment of the Jeremy Irons' character, the saintly Fr Gabriel, and the complex and understated introspection of Ray MacAnally's Cardinal - a truly great performance.
Yet Ridley Scott's 'Kingdom of Heaven,' despite the magnificence of its costumes and the gripping drama of its plot, comes across as decidedly anti-Christian (buying into the pervasive academic myth of a tolerant medieval Islam in the process) and almost comically anachronistic in its elevation of Hollywood's own pet agnostic liberal values. Still, given that the U.S. film industry seems to treat half its own compatriots with a similar degree of uncomprehending condescension, should we expect better in a film which attempts to grapple with one of the darker episodes of the Middle Ages?
But, a serious question - are there are any good and historically accurate broadly Catholic / Christian films out there which you would recommend?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Robert White: Christe, qui lux es et dies

Not even some small degree of comfort?

I came across this from Archbishop William Temple the other day [from the book, 'Thoughts on Some Problems of the Day' p 114.]
Before anyone tells me, I'm fully aware that I am interpreting his statement (in connection with non-episcopally conferred orders - the parallel itself is instructive)  in a somewhat different way than he may have intended, but it did give some small degree of momentary comfort as things Anglo-Catholic come to their denouement - depending on your point of view, ruin or fulfilment:
" ......In other words, though real ministries within the universal Church, they may still not be ministries of the universal Church with a commission from the whole fellowship to all its members."
That's a fair summary of our own perception of precisely where we are now, hence the total willingness of clergy going to the Ordinariate to accept ordination in order to minister in another, and wider, context - that of the universal Church.
Of course, Temple goes on to say this:
"Our claim [as Anglicans] is that where a living Church acts through duly consecrated Bishops we have assurance that there Christ bestows His commission to act on behalf of the universal Church. If some part of the Church refuses to recognise it, that will constitute a defect in the effectiveness of the commission, but it will not destroy it as a commission of the universal Church......"
But in the contemporary situation, in the light of Anglican decisions since 1991 (in the U.S.A. really, 1974 - 76, and certainly since 1989),  that begs quite a few questions, I think, for those of us who do not accept that the ordination of women is, in fact, in that highly questionable, if not actually mendacious phrase, now the basis of the new orthodoxy in many Anglican provinces, "consonant with scripture and required by tradition" . For many of us, it's more difficult now, to say the least,  to maintain that Anglican episcopal or priestly orders (a source of division even within the Anglican Communion) are either "duly conferred" or a continuation of the 'historic' ('apostolic') ministry of the universal Church.
Of course, and it's necessary to repeat this ad nauseam, the ordination of women is the presenting symptom rather the disease itself. It remains a visible reminder both of the need for a true locus of authority not subject to constant synodical revisionism, and also the end of the possibility of Anglicanism as a whole pursuing a "catholic" ecumenical vocation. Some might say, whatever they may have previously believed, that it does indeed destroy even the possibility of Anglican orders being regarded as acting "as a commission of the universal Church......"  Where it does leave them it's not so easy to say.... Perhaps it's not necessary to say anything.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Pray for New Zealand

 Christchurch Cathedral, showing its collapsed spire

Please pray for those trapped and injured and for those who have died in the earthquake in the South Island of New Zealand.
We have good news of a family, originally from this parish, now living in Christchurch. They are safe and unscathed, and in temporary accommodation due to damage to their home.
News report from the BBC [here]


"-gesima" Sundays

The more time goes by, the more we miss the three Sundays which in both the Book of Common Prayer and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite used to prepare us for the beginning of Lent. After all, it's far too late to reflect on how best we are to approach Lent when it's already upon us.
I suppose some of the modern Anglican calendars with their 'Sundays before Lent,' give the possibility of continuing in some form the older tradition, but five Sundays before Lent (as is the case this year) or only two (in some other years) seem either excessive or excessively paltry.
This is from an article from the NLM archive which speaks of the possiblity of 'mutual enrichment' which, I gather, is all the rage these days - not before time. [See here]
The article quotes Fr Christopher Phillips of the Anglican Use in the U.S.A.:
"There are things about the old calendar that I miss, and I hope there will be a restoration in a revised liturgical use for the [new Anglican] Ordinariate.
I always loved the old "gesima" Sundays - the three Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, forming a pre-Lenten season which served as a bridge between Epiphanytide and the great Forty Days... The Collect appointed for the day makes for a real change of gears, as we moved from the outward-looking aspect of the manifestation of Christ to the world, into a more introspective attitude by looking into our own hearts and souls...
The Gospel reading then served as a reminder that the coming discipline of Lent was to prepare us for our work in building God's Kingdom...
There's a spiritual richness when these things are put into an historical context, and it would be a pity to lose it. It's all part of the treasury of the Church."
Read it all [here]

On a related theme, that of the pressing need for mutual enrichment, here's another wicked quote from Alice Thomas Ellis (see here): not perhaps my usual pre-Lent reading, but these are not usual times.

".......'There had always been a hint of catering about the Mass, but previously the priest had the dignity of a master chef busying himself with his spécialité. Now he seems like a singing waiter in charge of an inadequate buffet. One is tempted to stroll up and ask for a double martini and enquire who on earth forgot to put the doings on the canapés. I wonder why they didn't keep the real Mass for me and just bring in this one for the kiddies and the mentally subnormal?' " 
Again, from her first novel, The Sin Eater (1977)

I'm not a great fan of Cranmer's eccentric theology (what we can reconstruct of it). His prose style is another matter. This is the collect for Quinquagesima in the Book of Common Prayer (1549 onwards) - what better prayer to prepare us for the coming Lenten fast?

O Lord, who dost teach us that our doings without charity are nothing worth, send thy Holy Ghost and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and all virtues, without the which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee;  grant this for thy only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

Today, the Feast of the Chair of St Peter,  has been set aside as a Day of Prayer for the Ordinariates.
Please pray for those who will be spending Lent in preparation for entering into the full communion of the Catholic Church as members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

O GOD, who didst bestow upon thy blessed Apostle Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and didst appoint unto him the high priesthood of binding and loosing: vouchsafe; that by the help of his intercession we may be delivered from the bonds of our iniquities: Who livest and reignest, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
English Missal
Go before us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help;
that in all our works, begun, continued and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Resources can be found at the Ordinariate Portal [here]

Monday, 21 February 2011

Ends and beginnings....

An interesting comment from the Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate Blog:
"......For those remaining Anglican the change is no less drastic. People will have to adjust to a huge shift in tradition as Solemn Mass gives way to Sung Eucharist and benediction, daily mass, rosary, holy hour and weekly sung angelus become things of the past. The diocese has decreed that a more Anglican future is needed, Affirming Catholic clergy are lined up for cover, suggesting a more liberal future and it is urged that resolutions are dropped...." [here]

If this is an indication of a general response to the setting up of the Ordinariate, then it's clear that the Establishment Anglican line will be that those leaving were never 'real' Anglicans at all and that the Church of England (et al) is better off without them. Anyone who knows a little bit about the Oxford Movement and its successor, the Anglo-Catholic movement (a diminishing number, it seems), will know that things have always been rather more complicated than that. But it seems to be becoming clearer in the way divided parishes are being treated that the future (and who is acceptably 'Anglican')  will be decided in a much more 'protestant' direction  liturgically and doctrinally whoever wins the international Anglican culture wars. This is a (somewhat) belated attempt to tidy up the looser ends of the Reformation settlement, perhaps? Many will take the view that Anglicans can do what they want in what is a separate "denomination," but that is precisely where the argument has always been - where does the authority of two forcibly sundered provinces of the Western Church derive? This difference in Anglican perceptions of self-identity is the real fault line for many of us.
I'll say it again, if what seems to be happening in the wake of departures for the Ordinariate is to be the 'official' Anglican policy, then the Ordinariate will be the only long-term home for traditional Anglo-Catholics which is even remotely recognisable. Ultimately (and, yes, I know some - clergy, that is - may just about be able to struggle on to retirement) the choice will be between buying into the package of a re-invented Anglicanism (liberal revisionist with all that will entail or firmly protestant evangelical) or making other more satisfactory arrangements.....
Clearly, and we need to be well aware of it, the status quo is not going to be an option for anyone.

There's nothing more frustrating than for a story to be given prominent billing and then suddenly drop out of the news without any follow up. This, sadly, seems to be the end of the long-running story about the parish of Thiberville in Normandy. [Here]

A political comment - the left's unwarranted assumption that those who find themselves (increasingly) on the right of the spectrum are "bad people." From Katharine Birbalsingh's blog at the Daily Telegraph [here]

Sunday, 20 February 2011

More evidence of liberality from the 'Equalities Minister'

"So – when I say the ‘modern world’ throws up new challenges – years ago this dilemma would not have existed because being openly gay itself was illegal. It is a measure of how far we have travelled that to not register a civil partnership is now illegal. I know I came in for a fair amount of chatter on the Internet amongst religious sites for saying, during the committee stage of the Equality Bill, that given these new challenges people would have to basically go into a different job – meaning that if your religious belief is going to make it impossible to carry out your work in the public sector – then that job is not going to be the right one. For those in the job as the world changes – of course – this is a very difficult circle to square – but in the end (and I believe quite rightly) access to public services cannot be anything other than free of religious belief."

Lynne Featherstone M.P.

I seem to remember from somewhere that Fr Arthur Stanton, [here] that hero of our Anglo-Catholic past, was a convinced radical Liberal in politics. One wonders what stance he would take now; but of course that was long before the centre-left decided, along with much of society, to take the easy option and pursue the more fashionable politics of sexuality rather than the laborious and often disheartening process of trying to improve the lot of the poor, deserving or undeserving.
But these kind of statements (yet more evidence of the growth of illiberal liberalism) are disturbing in their failure to understand the meaning of true cultural diversity, not to mention individual liberty, a belief in which which used to be close to the heart of the British Liberal Party.
Depressingly, Ms Featherstone, not to be left out, also has her two penn'orth on the subject of women bishops [here]
"So – from the brink – the Church creaks into the 21st century. I’m glad that they rejected the second class (for women) bishops and all the other equivocations that would have been all things to all men (literally)."
An interesting opinion from one of Her Majesty's ministers, yet somehow I doubt she is to be found in the pews on a Sunday morning. Some might think that such an absence should disqualify her from making comment.
Mr Gladstone would most definitely not approve [or, on the above evidence, even be eligible for a job in "the public sector."]

Austin Farrer: 'Septuagesima'

"We are, says the collect, not what we shall be, punished for our offences: the world by boredom and fear of war, the Church by impotence and self-reproach, and we by separation from the life of God. Punished, says the collect, and justly punished; for if we are separated from God, is it not that we have cut ourselves off, by laziness in praying, and faithlessness in obeying? But, says the collect, we may yet pray with confidence to be relieved of punishment by God's mercy through Jesus Christ. Our punishment lasts no longer than our will to live without God. We throw ourselves into Christ's sacrifice, we are offered, presented by him to God along with his own flesh and blood; for we are his flesh and blood, he does not disown us."

'Septuagesima' from The Crown of the Year by Austin Farrer

O LORD, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The collect for Septuagesima from the Book of Common Prayer (1662)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Updates etc

The Government changes its mind on selling off the woodlands - from where I'm standing, a sensible decision. Report from the BBC [here] and from Ancient Briton [here]

Disturbing news about the exclusion of Religious Education from the English Baccalaureate
Report & a petition  [Here]

A few more comments on the civil partnership / religious ceremony fracas from the Archbishop of York [here] and, more combatively but substantially in agreement , from Melanie Phillips [here]
But it would seem, according to the LibDem 'Minister for Equalities' (one wonders exactly how all this became the business of government), that it is now the Coalition's policy to "push to open both marriage and civil partnerships to both same-sex and mixed-sex couples," something which, she says, is "an issue close to my heart."

A good suggestion about reading for Lent from Fr Z [here]

But this has to be my quote of the day.
From a novel by Alice Thomas Ellis - darkly cynical, but perhaps all too true as things have turned out, at least in terms of what has become the 'established' method - see William Oddie's comments [here]

"'What is ecumenism?' she asked Rose in an undertone.
'It is as though a dying man were to tie himself to one already dead in the hope of setting in train a process of revitalisation,' Rose told her, also in an undertone, low but carrying."

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


"I don't think anybody takes everything [in the Bible] completely literally," she said. "The tension is more around which parts are more important. I think Anglicanism -- the Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican tradition -- Anglicanism at its best has said that the wisdom of community is important in interpreting Scripture. One's rational capacity, reason, is important in interpreting Scripture. We can't just read it and understand what it means. For one thing, most of us don't read in the original languages. And meanings of words have changed over the centuries," she said.

As an example, she said, in Shakespeare's time, the word "nice" meant "stupid," from the root for "to not know," unlike today's definition of "agreeable" or "pleasant."
"We have to use the best scholarship in reading the Bible," she said. "The questions are different in different ages. Christians in the western context today are asking questions about human sexuality that people weren't asking 300 years ago. They were asking questions about what it means to be in right relationship with their kings or the government, and we're focused on a different set of questions today."
TEC Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts-Schori

"..The Anglican tradition  has continued to be a kind of triangle, a kind of balance between the appeals to Scripture, tradition and reason. And it is possible for the three sides of that triangle to pull apart. Inevitably  there have been within the Anglican churches those who have specially emphasised the appeal to Scripture, and have not bothered very much about the ancient Fathers . There have been those who have appealed strongly to ancient tradition, but might have paid a little more attention to Holy Scripture, and perhaps a little more attention to reason as well. There have been those who, concentrating upon the activity of God in reason, have not been quite as sensitive as they might be to what is revealed in Holy Scripture and contemptuous of traditions as something that old men used to think many, many centuries ago...." 
Archbishop Michael Ramsey

And this, from Canon Arthur Middleton,  is as good a summing-up as anything I've read of the classical Anglican position:

"Scripture became the self-evident basis but because the Bible without the Church becomes a mere collection of ancient documents, Scriptural interpretation depends on the appeal to antiquity as mutually inclusive. Anglicanism maintained the Catholic notion of a perfect union between the Church and Scripture in that the Church’s authority is not distinct from that of Scripture but rather that they are one. Anglican divinity has an ecclesial context in which the Church bears witness to the truth not by reminiscence or from the words of others, but from its own living, unceasing experience, from its Catholic fullness that has its roots in the Primitive Church. This appeal is not merely to history but to a charismatic principle, tradition, which together with Scripture contains the truth of divine revelation, a truth that lives in the Church. In this spirit Anglican divines looked to the Fathers as interpreters of Scripture. The 1571 Canons authorize preachers to preach nothing but what is found in Holy Scripture and what the ancient Fathers have collected from the same, ensuring that the interpretation of Scripture is consistent with what Christians have believed always, everywhere and by all."
So, just to make it clear to those who have accused this blog of being "anti-anglican," my problem remains with those who have no real understanding of the often uneasy coexistence of the traditions within Anglicanism, and who therefore, regardless of the probable consequences, by forcing by less than scrupulous means their own partial and partisan interpretations on their own ecclesial body, have - not always unwittingly - contributed both to its disintegration and destruction, and its complete inability to plot a serious and consistent course in the search for Christian unity.
Of course, the issues now confronting Anglicans always had the capacity to blow apart a less than theologically coherent and cohesive body of believers. It's more the way it has happened.........

Monday, 14 February 2011

More departures

from the Church of England - Here at the Ordinariate Portal and here, in their own words, at the Anglo-Catholic.

A departure of a different kind from the Church in Wales:
The Very Revd. Dr Richard Fenwick, Dean of St Woolos (St Gwynllyw) Cathedral, Newport, and the nearest thing we have in the Church in Wales to a traditionalist in high office, has been elected as Bishop of St Helena  in the Province of Southern Africa. Congratulations to him and to his family.

St Valentine

I still tend to think that our modern celebration of "Valentine's Day" (sic) all too often comes across as a commercial conspiracy involving  among others florists, restaurateurs and greetings card manufacturers. Nothing these days is free from the corrosive effect of commercialism, which tends to kill, or at least alter out of all recognition, everything it touches.
The problem with today's approach to "romance" (the accent, of course, has to be on the first syllable) is that it can all too easily begin and end with the other person being regarded merely as an extension of our own selfish wishes and desires, rather than someone of infinite value made in the image and likeness of God.
Still, to the extent that we can distance ourselves from that, St Valentine's Day probably does no harm and, if it can also remind us that human love in this cynical, self-obsessed age can still be possible and enduring, it does positive good.

St Valentine himself? This is from his entry at CatholicOnlines's Saint of the Day [here]

"The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.....
.........Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede. Being in jail or dead is no excuse for non-performance of the supernatural. One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine." 
St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses."

I particularly like the sentence, "Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede."

"If we are without human feelings we cannot love God in the way in which we are meant to love Him - as men. If we do not respond to human affection we cannot be loved by God in the way in which He has willed to love us - with the Heart of the Man, Jesus Who is God, the Son of God, and the anointed Christ."
Thomas Merton: Thoughts in Solitude.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Today's breaking news from England

News here of the resignations (en route for the Ordinariate) of Frs Ed Tomlinson, Ivan Aquilina and James Bradley.
Our prayers (and our hopes for the future)  go with them and with those who will be joining them.

Not that civil

Ministers are expected to publish plans to enable same-sex couples to "marry" in church. Report from the BBC here
The Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone is to propose lifting the ban on civil partnerships taking place in religious settings in England and Wales.

Although there are no plans to compel religious organisations to hold ceremonies, and the Church of England 's (and the Church in Wales') present stance is not allow its churches to be used, one wonders how much longer this ban will remain in force, particularly given those already lined up not only in favour of a change in the pragmatic but essentially unreal legal distinction but, it seems, actually of an inevitable blurring of the essential theological (and far from 'discriminatory') distinction between marriage and civil partnerships. See here
Given his recent comments on the subject of "homophobic theology," one would have to assume there would be at least one Welsh bishop (albeit an assistant) in favour of a fundamental change in his church's take on the theology of human sexuality.
We can expect that in the coming debate (and in the politicised world of Anglicanism there is always a debate raging about something) all the essentially secular arguments from 'justice and equality' will be trotted out once more and, as we know well, they have a habit in modern Anglican discussions of sweeping all before them. Is there anyone out there foolhardy enough to tell me that this won't be the case sooner rather than later?

But, having said that, it is hard to see much of a distinction between the theological and ethical stances of  Liberal Judaism, the Society of Friends and the Unitarians (those who will be immediately affected by the government's plans) and that of the liberal hegemony which has contemporary Anglicanism in a vice-like grip.

Once again, as already in the case of holy orders, we are seeing a fundamental divergence taking place between Anglicanism as it has become and the Catholic Faith; and it is this divergence above all else which makes many of us uneasy to the point of despair.
It is difficult for Anglican Catholics now to see a wall without also seeing the writing very clearly on it.
Who was it who said that, ultimately, the choice would be between Rome and the liberal synagogue?


I heard this on the car radio, coming back from my last mass this morning.
Forgive me if I include it here as a kind of tribute to the increasing frivolity of Anglican Church life....... wrong notes deliberately sounded?
Still, it made me laugh out loud.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Marcel Dupré: Lucis Creator optime

Congratulations are a necessity

Congratulations, prayers and best wishes to former bishop Edwin Barnes, ordained yesterday, and now, for a few weeks before his priesting, a deacon in the Ordinariate.

If anyone had any doubts about the absolute necessity of the Ordinariate in order to preserve any kind of  recognisable and traditional Anglican identity - both for those hoping to join it and those thinking of staying on - one need not look any further than the subject of yesterday's post.
Undoubtedly, traditionalists should receive an apology:  not only for the episcopal, and therefore official, expression of opinions which, regrettably, are now fairly common in certain Anglican circles, but also for the publication of these views on an official Provincial website.

Traditionalists have often been accused of "repudiating our own Church." That's not true, or only true if one accepts that Eichmann-like we are simply here to obey the orders of those who now rule the roost (how's that for a nasty comparison?); it beggars belief exactly how the "new orthodoxy" has been imposed, here as elsewhere, by a combination of theological stealth, ruthless patronage and, particularly in the synodical process, a cynical exploitation of theological ignorance.
The fact that the classical Anglican 'three-legged stool' appeal to authority (whatever its limitations) has been transformed over the last couple of generations into a shooting stick (i.e. with 'reason' - interpreted wrongly and all too often as the secular spirit of the age -  effectively trumping the witness of Holy Scripture and sacred tradition) has made the revisionists' conquest of the Anglican world swift and irrevocable. Hence the search for authority which has ended for many of us in the recognition of the need to accept that gift to the whole Church which is the Petrine supremacy.

Of course, I don't for a moment think there will be any kind of apology forthcoming, at least until hell freezes over - - perhaps not such an apt metaphor given Dante Alighieri's  description of the lowest of the infernal regions.
Let's put it another way: holding our breath that long will fatally compromise our health.

Friday, 11 February 2011

No sheepdogs in the Gospels, just shepherds.

Thanks to Ancient Briton for this story. Just when you think things could get no worse.......

“Gospel precedents for men as priests, Gospel precedents for women as priests. We may not like those precedents, but as I say, the precedents set by Christ are to judge us, not we them.”
Defending the church from an accusation that ordaining women was a sign that it had abandoned Christ, Bishop David said, Ordination is a much needed countersign to a world where women are brutalised in war zones, where gays fear for their very lives in Uganda. Otherwise a homophobic theology encourages homophobic violence; misogynistic theology encourages misogynistic violence just as the anti-Semitic theology of ‘His blood be upon us and our children,’ encouraged anti Semitism, even though that was the last thing Matthew the Gospel writer intended.”

David Wilbourne, Assistant Bishop of Llandaff -  published on the Church in Wales website [here]

Ah! Now I understand the purpose and meaning of holy order!
At least, I begin to understand very clearly what the liberals believe it to be.
That's all I can bring myself to say on words which at the same time grovel to the zeitgeist and are too crass and insulting to the historic faith of the Church (and to those who adhere to it) to be worthy of any further comment.

And now for an intelligent and thoughtful reflection:
"The formulation of John Paul II is very important: "The Church does not have in any way the faculty to confer priestly ordination on women." It is not a matter of not wanting, but of not being able. The Lord has given a form to the Church with the Twelve and then with their succession, with the bishops and the presbyters (the priests). We were not the ones who created this form of the Church, but rather its essentiality comes from him. Following it is an act of obedience, and in the contemporary situation perhaps one of the most burdensome acts of obedience. But precisely this is important, that the Church show that it is not an arbitrary regime. We cannot do what we want. There is instead the Lord's will for us, to which we adhere, even if this is wearisome and difficult in the culture and civilization of today. Besides, the functions entrusted to women in the Church are so great and significant that one cannot speak of discrimination. This would be the case if the priesthood were a sort of dominion, while on the contrary it must be complete service. If one looks at the history of the Church, one realizes that the significance of women – from Mary to Monica all the way to Mother Teresa – is so eminent that in many ways women define the face of the Church more than men do."
          Pope Benedict XVI  in  Light of the World

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Egypt on the brink...?

Egypt on the brink of a change of regime, if not a revolution. Report from Reuters here
Or not? Latest report here This could run for a while yet.
I'm sorry to bang on about this, but the western media almost always overlook the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
We hold the Copts and all Egyptian Christians in our prayers this evening.
For them, and for the whole world, the best outcome would be a strong and resolutely secular democratic government.
Bearing in mind the 1979 Iranian 'Revolution,' the worst possible outcome would be a weak interim administration menaced by a groundswell of Islamist opinion - unlikely in modern Egypt, but not out of the question given the volatility of the situation.
It would seem, too, that the well-meaning interventions of liberal western governments in the politics of the Middle East are almost always doomed to failure.
Don't the cynics say that the only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn anything from history?

An unscheduled meeting

I was sitting in the study talking to Fr Mark about some parish business this lunchtime when the Vicarage 'phone rang. Someone was wanting to gain access to the church to look around. It is usually open during the day between the morning and evening offices, but for some reason today had been locked up by mistake.
So, remembering the spirit of the Rule of St Benedict that the arrival of an unexpected guest shouldn't be regarded as an interruption, but rather an addition to the work and prayer of the day, I dashed over to the church with my keys!

It's always a pleasure to meet another blogger, and standing in the church porch was Evelyn Nicholson, the author of the  Mary in Monmouth website.
It's a fascinating blog (now added on the right) and well worth a read. Perhaps we may even get a mention in a future post.
This is how the blog describes itself:
"A site tracing the Catholic life and history of the Ancient Kingdom of Gwent, now known as Monmouthshire,UK from Silurian times. .........Photographs of interesting places. Some Catechesis. Strength of site is in tracing obscure Gwentian saints and martyrs and digging out gems from forgotten sites."

Over a coffee we all had the opportunity to talk about shared patrimony and our hopes for the Church in the light of recent developments.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

"Rebellion in the nursing home.”

The news of the recent dissenting statement by German-speaking theologians [here] took many people aback over the weekend. It was, of course, reported with great delight by the BBC on Sunday morning as it recommended essentially the adoption of the liberal protestant agenda which has been such an outstanding evangelistic success for the Anglican Communion (or rather, the secularised 'western' provinces of it.)
But lest anyone should mistake this declaration for a sign that Rome is going the same way as Canterbury, Catholic World News has reported an intervention by Peter Seewald, the journalist who interviewed Pope Benedict so fascinatingly in the book 'Light of the World.' If you haven't read it, then it comes highly recommended. I was given it as a Christmas present from my colleague in the parish, Fr Mark - an exchange of gifts, as I gave him Andrew Burnham's 'Heaven & Earth in Little Space' - more essential reading for those embarking on a journey at some point.
Seewald portrays those theologians who dissent publicly from the Magisterium as "chief priests of the Zeitgeist" and, amusingly, the whole episode as “a rebellion in the nursing home,” the point being that despite all the liberal talk about 'the next pope but one' (I wish I had £5 for every time I've heard that one from the usual Anglican sources) who will come into line with secular thinking on the whole raft of issues on the revisionists' wish-list, this is one of the last hurrahs of the 1960s, from those whose interpretation of the 'spirit of Vatican II'  differs considerably from the emerging consensus.
This is the report on   [Thanks to Thoughts from an Oasis in French Catholicism]

"The journalist whose in-depth interview with Pope Benedict XVI became the book Light of the World has dismissed a public protest by German-speaking theologians as “a rebellion in the nursing home.”
Peter Seewald told the news agency that a highly-publicized statement of dissent-- signed by one-third of the theology professors at Catholic universities in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland—should not be interpreted as a popular uprising against Church teaching. Rather, he said, it is a protest by the same people who have caused a crisis in Catholic teaching.
The dissident theologians, Seewald charged, are seeking to remodel the Church in their own image, adapting Catholic teachings to popular standards. Their approach, he said, is to measure Church doctrines by the standards of popular opinion, putting themselves in the role of “chief priests of the Zeitgeist.”
In his acerbic remarks on the theologians’ public statement, Seewald referred to St. Paul’s words (2 Tim 4:3): For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachings to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths."
Here is a link to the theologians' letter: it will seem very familar to those of us who have been suffering for years under the failure of exactly the kind of approach they seek to promote.
Biretta tip to Fr Anthony Chadwick at the  English Catholic blog

"an entirely new and radical initiative "

Two items about the Ordinariate:
Firstly, an extract from Fr Christopher Colven's homily at the patronal festival of the TAC parish of St Agatha's Langport. Fr Colven, a former Anglican priest - in fact both a former Master of SSC and Administrator of the (Anglican) Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham - is now (Catholic) Rector of St James, Spanish Place, in London.

"......At risk of moving where angels fear to tread, I think I ought to say something about the idea of the Ordinariate which is on all our minds at present. It seems to me – and this a purely personal reaction – that there is an invitation here, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to allow much to fall into the ground and appear to die, in order that a greater harvest may be reaped. In thanking God for so much that has been achieved – and in this building we think of the pastoral ministry of Father Dolling and his like – we need to see where the example of the great witnesses to the Faith is pointing.
There is a legend of St Peter visiting St Agatha after dreadful torture to heal her wounds. Perhaps Peter is reaching out to us today drawing us closer to Christ and to one another. The Ordinariate is an entirely new and radical initiative – it cuts through so much that had been perceived as the ecumenical norms and says that if you see communion with the Successor of Peter as of the “esse” of the Church and if you can accept the Catechism as the norm of faith, then you are virtually free to write your own cheque and establish your own parameters. We have here a fresh model for reconciliation whose implications have yet to be tested and understood. May it help towards the fulfilment of Christ’s prayer that all should be one, that the world may believe.
That great English writer, Edith Sitwell, once said: “all in the end is harvest”. In Christ’s own way, in Christ’s own time, may that harvest become a reality for us all – aided by the example and intercession of St Agatha...."
Read it all at the Ordinariate Portal [here] The emphasis is mine.

And this is an article from the USA by Jordan Hylden on First Things, significantly from a transatlantic Anglican / Episcopal perspective: [again, my emphasis]
".....Catholics have long insisted that the Roman primacy is an integral and necessary part of the ecumenical movement toward Christian unity. And they have further insisted, as Pope John Paul II paradigmatically did in Ut Unum Sint, on the “power and the authority without which such an office would be illusory.” But this is precisely what Rowan Williams challenged in his Vatican address: whether instead it might be that shared theological understandings of primacy could coexist “alongside a diversity of canonical or juridical arrangements,” leading to a sort of communion of communions not united “juridically or institutionally” but instead by “lasting loyalty, shared theological method and devotional ethos.”

Primacy, in such a scenario, would not need to be constituted by a “centralized juridical office” and a “single juridically united body.” It would instead serve as the focus of unity within a communion of communions, each committed to sustaining a “mutually nourishing and mutually critical life” and each following mutually agreed-upon “protocols of decision-making.”
Williams’ proposal, as he himself indicated, sounded very much like that of the Anglican Covenant, of which he has been the principal proponent in recent years. The long-discussed Covenant, which by now has been approved by three provinces, in essence consists of the shared “protocols of decision-making” by which Anglicans worldwide would commit to walk together in faith and morals rather than apart.
The elephant in the room, of course, was and is that Anglicans have thus far failed spectacularly in bringing anything like the vision of ecclesial life Williams described to fruition. It is not at all clear that there exists among Anglicans anything remotely close to “lasting loyalty, shared theological method, and devotional ethos,” as the events that have transpired during his time at Canterbury have shown.
As such, the question raised by John Paul II remains open: Is it not the case that such a vision will continue to remain illusory without the power and authority held by the Bishop of Rome? As the former Episcopal bishop Jeffrey Steenson asked in a 2005 Anglican Theological Review essay, is not the authority of the Roman primacy just the “unopened gift” that Anglicans need? Then-Bishop Steenson thought so; he is now a Catholic priest."

Read it all here

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

For the West: co-religionists or just an embarrassing irrelevance?

In a hard hitting article in USA Today Joseph Bottum asks the question as to who will protect the rights of middle-eastern Christians.
"...This American abdication has produced only more oppression — and it's accelerating at a horrifying rate. Nearly every day since Christmas, Christians have been murderously attacked for the simple fact of being Christians.
Our willful blindness is shameful, and our inactivity is wrong. The United States must preface every diplomatic exchange with an Islamic country by demanding religious liberty and a halt to persecution. And we need to do it now — while there are still a few Christians left to defend in their ancient homelands."
Read it all here

It has to be said that the writer's faith in the West's own rhetoric is touching if misplaced. Western governments have never done that much to protect Christian minorities, even in the imperial past when they were directly responsible for their welfare.
It was William Dalrymple in his moving and brilliantly written book, "From the Holy Mountain" who reminded us that islamist propaganda has always sought falsely to portray Christianity as a foreign, wholly western faith, and Christians as having no place in what should be an exclusively Muslim culture. The ancient Christian communities of the Middle East (in existence centuries before the birth of Islam and its subsequent wars of conquest) have been consistently and callously ignored by those who are at least nominally their brothers and sisters in Christ in favour of the benefits of realpolitik and, in more recent years, the need to protect the supply of oil without which our western economies would soon grind to a halt. On the other hand, it has to be conceded that, for obvious reasons, too much open western support  may compound the difficulties of Christian communities and even increase their persecution.
Worryingly for all of us, the emergence of "democracy"  (in the sense of rule by the majority) in Egypt or anywhere else in theMiddle East, without a parallel growth of a culture of tolerance and respect for minorities, would not by itself guarantee the religious rights and physical safety of our fellow Christians in the region and could make their plight worse than it is at present. The worst possible course of action would be for the West naively to promote democratic rights without democratic responsibilities.

But before we become too smugly confident about our own political and cultural traditions, this is a lesson we need to discover for ourselves here  in a society where, for example, the rights of sexual preference now are deemed to outweigh those of a formative religious heritage. There is an increasingly delicate balance to be found between a benignly secular democratic state and an aggressive state-sponsored secularism which seeks to impose its majority values. The current debate about multiculturalism and integration is a very necessary one, but we need to reflect on the possibility that those who have come to our shores with a deeply held (if not particularly tolerant) religious faith, might not find anything in our celebrity-obsessed and hedonistic 'culture' which engages their hearts and minds in a way which makes them want to belong to it.

For an analysis of the relationship btween freedom and tolerance see this from Joseph Weiler's book, 'Exiting a Dead End Road: a GPS for Christians in Public Discourse.' here on the MercatorNet site
Here's a small snippet from the chapter:
"We have gone a long way towards the complete destruction of the true meaning of freedom and tolerance. We do not want to emancipate ourselves from our instinctual drives and we have proclaimed the superiority of pleasure over conscience.

In this way we have lost the idea of happiness, that is the properly human way of taking pleasure not against the other human being or disregarding her/his dignity but together with her/him in a true community of love. We do not want to accept the self discipline and the virtues that we need in order to develop our potentiality for the greater freedom. The greater freedom is what St. Thomas Aquinas would have called a “bonum arduum” (something very valuable that demands a high price to be won). The reward of the efforts needed to acquire the greater freedom is the possibility to live a great love. As a consequence of our cowardice we, the people of this generation, live only small loves that are not enough to fill our lives, which therefore remain void and tasteless. We say we are tolerant only because we have no passionate interest in the lives of others and only want to be left alone. And we are left alone until our world peters out “not with a bang but with a whimper”.

Monday, 7 February 2011

A little early in the year for the "silly season"

Another piece of wonderful silliness from Ruth Gledhill and The Times:

"Church of England clergy who resign and become Roman Catholic priests in the new Ordinariate group set up by the Pope could be subject to Anglican 'heresy trials' for disobedience.

As the General Synod, the Church’s parliament, opens today in Westminster, legal advisers have warned in a note to members that clergy who defect to Rome must first “relinquish” their orders under the 1870 Clergy Disability Act.
If they fail to do so, the lawyers warn in the note, the defecting clergy will under the law of the land remain obedient canonically to their former diocesan bishop or archbishop. This would mean they could be summoned to a tribunal hearing under the 2003 Clergy Discipline Measure, which has the power formally to defrock them and ban them for life."
[No direct link because of the paywall - here if you think it's worth £1]

An Anglican 'heresy trial' - that would be something to behold. Unprecedented? Perhaps altogether too dangerous a precedent in a contemporary Church which appears to have a veritable smorgasbord of heterodoxy on offer to those inclined to be so tempted.
But someone needs to remind Ruth Gledhill, and anyone who might take this kind of quasi-legal fantasy seriously, that this is the twenty-first century, not the sixteenth, and that the reigning monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, not Elizabeth I.

They must speak for themselves, but I doubt whether those who are considering a move to the Ordinariate will be too worried at this prospect. It does though conjure up the fascinating picture of former Anglican, now Roman Catholic clergy, being forced to answer for their "disobedience"  in the courts. Now we know, as Dickens' Mr Bumble said,  that the law can sometimes be an ass - but not that much of an ass.
Memo to those concerned: if you are going to issue a threat, make sure it's one which is half-way credible.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Crisis, end-game, or opportunity?

It's been a busy week, criss-crossing the country for unrelated reasons.
But this has come to my attention. It's a critique of the recent Anglican primates' meeting in Dublin from Dr Charles Raven, from a evangelical, reformed perspective. As might be expected, he pulls no punches:
"...the crisis of orthodox Anglicanism in England is persistently underplayed, especially by evangelicals, many of whom seem to be stuck in the mindset of the 1960’s and think that they can somehow turn things round from within if only they can get enough votes or ordinands or bishops. This is not wrong, but it is inadequate – it is the past which has got us to the desperate situation of the present, with a failing Archbishop of Canterbury who has allowed false teaching to tear the Communion and the very real threat that those opposed in conscience to the consecration of women as bishops will be forced out of the Church of England...."
Read it all here

The only quarrel I would have, from an Anglo-Catholic perspective, with what he says is that, on any realistic reading of the Anglican situation, yes, it is now far too late to "turn things round from within," and it has been for some considerable time, given that apostolic order has been fatally compromised within Anglicanism and along with it all hope of meaningful ecumenism with Rome and the East, at least on the old "ARCIC" pattern of theological dialogue leading to full and visible unity. Given the recorded statements of Rome and Orthodoxy on the subject, one would have to be delusional to think otherwise, or else have a unlimited faith in the converting power of liberal theology. The truth is that those who are at the cutting edge of Anglicanism's more radical departures from orthodoxy have no time for such (to them) frivolous and peripheral things as "catholic" ecumenism and never have. Their interests lie elsewhere, mainly in the turbulent waters of the theology of human sexuality and in the kind of thing we all had to endure during our student days (the antidote to Bultmania was a close reading of the works of the great Fr Eric Mascall), and about which Fr Longenecker writes about so honestly here
What, then, is the future?
There is an interesting, and related, article in the February edition of The Portal by a consistent friend to Anglo-Catholics, Fr Aidan Nichols O.P., continuing a theme he has developed more fully elsewhere, but now with the benefit of the events of January 2011. In it he goes some way both to put things in some kind of historical perspective and to point the way forward:
"....The bishops, priests and people who are joining the Ordinariate come from the nineteenth century Oxford Movement. In fact, they are following out the logic of that movement to the end. The Tractarians were not mainly interested in looking back at earlier Anglican writers for bits and pieces they agreed with (though they also did that). They were mainly concerned with restructuring Anglicanism root-and-branch on Catholic principles (for which the older writers were sometimes useful, and sometimes not). The Tractarians wanted to reshape the whole of the Church of England – not just the High Church party – along Catholic lines. We know how much was achieved along those lines, in preaching, Liturgy, devotion. But when in 1992 the Synod voted for the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood, that crucial Tractarian ambition was frustrated for ever and a day.
That did not mean, however, that the aims of the Oxford Movement could not be realized in another way. Once the Tractarians admitted Rome was a genuine Church, and not a parody of a Church, as earlier polemics had it, a number of those who remained loyal Anglicans started to thinking about ways in which corporate reunion might be possible...."
And he continues with a warning we should all take to heart, whatever our immediate plans:
"....Those who, despite having pictures of the Pope in their clergy-houses, sacristies or even churches, cannot imagine ever moving into another ‘part of the Lord’s vineyard’ (as Pusey put it) need to be clear, however, that achieving tolerated status within the Church of England (a.k.a. The Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda) is not what the Oxford Movement was about..."
It's difficult to argue with that.